Since taking more of an interest in our food and trying to understand what goes in and where it comes from, Peter and I have made three food swaps. These swaps have helped to move us away from processed ingredients and to more natural products. By making these swaps, we’ve reduced our intake of palm oil, E numbers, sugar and unnecessary amounts of antibiotics.
Read on to find out why we swapped to pure nut butters, organic chicken and sourdough bread.
Swap 1. Pure Nut Butter vs. Own Brand Nut Butters
One of the first food swaps that Peter and I tried was switching from own brand peanut butter to Meridian’s 100% Almond butter. Since then, we’ve never looked back.
It’s easy when shopping to be swayed by the cheaper brands to keep your bill small, but what this often means is that you’re also consuming additional unnecessary nasties. With own brand nut butters, you’ll often find that along with the nuts, the ingredients list will include salt, high levels of unnatural sugars and palm oil. All of which are pretty unnecessary and are included to ‘enhance’ the flavour.
For some reason, it took me until reading Deliciously Ella’s first book to realise that nut butter didn’t actually need to have all these other ingredients and that it could actually be made at home, in a food processor with just a few 100 grams of nuts. I gave this a whirl and absolutely loved the butter, but decided it was probably a lot of effort and that homemade butter is the same price as buying it from brands such as Meridian Foods. That’s when we swapped to 100% nut butters and now absolutely love them.
When you open a jar of 100% nut butter you’ll find that you get a fair bit of natural oil separation – all you need to do to overcome this is just stick a spoon in there and give it a really good stir. You’ll also find that the jars in supermarkets are a lot smaller and more expensive per 100g, but I’d rather spend the extra amount to avoid the unnecessary ingredients. I also like to bulk buy and will order these tubs.
Swap 2. Organic Chicken vs. Budget Chicken
This is very much a swap which most people have heard the story before. However, it’s one that I really believe in, as by opting for organic chicken (and other meats), you’re not only choosing better meat all round, but are also supporting a more sustainable and environmentally friendly version of farming. For a long time, Peter and I have bought the cheaper range of meats, including Sainsbury’s budget chicken breasts which are classed as British ‘Fresh Class A’; however, there are no other information as to the conditions in which the chickens have been allowed to live in. One must presume that they live indoors for their entire life, as there are absolutely no claims to them being free-range.
By choosing organic free-range chicken, you’re choosing to buy meat which has come from an animal allowed to experience fresh air and has (ideally) been given as few antibiotics as possible. Since cooking with organic chicken, I’ve noticed that its water content is much less than budget packs and requires less cooking time as a result.
You’ll generally find that organic meat is considerably more expensive than budget packs, with Sainsbury’s organic chicken breasts being £19 per 1kg compared to £6 per 1kg for their cheapest range. However, this just means that Peter and I half the amount of chicken that we consume in a week and then for the rest of our meals, we’ll eat vegetarian or enjoy organic sausages or sustainably caught fish.
Swap 3. Sourdough Bread vs. Refined Bread
Peter and I are big bread people. We absolutely love the stuff and can munch through a loaf in a single weekend. I’m not really sure how or why we started to buy sourdough bread over things like a farmhouse loaf; perhaps it was out of interest rather than anything else, but it just sort of stuck – and I’m pleased!
For some people, they’ll find that they can’t properly digest normal bread and when they eat sourdough, they have no problem. This is because the yeast and bacteria used in sourdough make the vitamins and minerals in the flour more available to the body by helping neutralise the phytates in flour that would normally interfere with their absorption. The acids created slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and means that you don’t get insulin spikes. They also render the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance.
The only ingredients that go into making a loaf of sourdough are: flour, water and salt. Compare this to a manufactured loaf such as Hovis where the ingredients are as follow: Wholemeal Flour (Wheat), Water, Caramelised Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Protein, Soya Flour, Salt, Wheat Flour (with added Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Emulsifiers: E471, E472e, E481, Preservative: E282, Vegetable Fat (Palm, Rapeseed), Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid, Wheat Starch, This product contains 62% Wholegrains from Wholemeal Flour – You can see why we might have made the swap! I can’t believe that caramelised sugar is third on the list, which means that it is one of the main ingredients. Shocking.
The only sweetness that I need on my sourdough bread is a little dollop of Meridian Cashew butter – yum!
Have you swapped to any of the above? I’d love to know what your favourite food swap is, let me know below!